Canadian home prices forecast to rise in 2021
Housing demand exceeded expectations in the second half of 2020. The supply of homes available for sale failed to keep pace, driving home prices higher and pushing unmet buyer demand into the new year. According to the Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast, the aggregate price of a home in Canada is set to rise 5.5 per cent year-over-year to $746,100 in 2021, with the median price of a two-storey detached house and condominium projected to increase 6.0 per cent and 2.25 per cent to $890,100 and $522,700, respectively.
"The leading indicators we analyze are pointing to a market that favours property sellers in the all-important spring of 2021," said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. "Across the country, a large number of hopeful buyers intent on improving their housing situation were not able to find the home they were looking for this year, as the inventory of properties for sale came nowhere near to meeting surging demand. With policy makers all but promising record low, industry supportive interest rates to continue, we do not see this imbalance improving in the new year. The upward pressure on home prices will continue.
"There was a clear shift towards larger properties and single-family dwellings in 2020, as families repurposed homes to become their office, school classroom, gymnasium and restaurant during the pandemic," Soper continued. "We expect this trend to moderate as life returns to normal in the months ahead. It is also worth noting, that Canada welcomed a new generation of first-time homeowners this year, encouraged by lower financing costs and softer demand for city centre condominiums. Urban living remains attractive for many."
The value of single-family houses and homes outside of major urban markets are forecast to continue to outpace city core condominiums in the year ahead, driven both by Canadians seeking larger homes in a time where remote work has become more commonplace, and broad-based demographic trends, including baby-boomer retirement.
"Mega-trends that predate the pandemic are pushing home prices higher in secondary markets outside of our largest cities. Corporate Canada's pandemic-driven move to work-from-home operations has simply accelerated relocation patterns already underway," said Soper. "The huge baby-boomer demographic began post-children migration to suburban and recreational-style communities in the middle of the last decade, and material numbers of the equally populous millennial generation have been exiting city centre condos in search of space as they began families."
Soper added that the trend of high demand outside of urban centres will slowly ease as listings in city centres become more competitive against growing prices in suburban and exurban markets.
Immigration is critical to the housing market both indirectly, as it is supportive of economic growth, as well as directly through housing demand. In October, the federal government announced its plan to add more than 1.2 million immigrants over three years, a significant jump from previous years. Previously published Royal LePage research3 into this demographic shows that newcomers to Canada typically rent for three years before purchasing, after which they have a material impact on new household formation and overall housing demand. An increase in immigration is supportive of both the resale market and investment demand for rental condominiums.
Nationally, the condominium segment is expected to see healthy demand in most of Canada's largest cities. A notable exception is the Greater Toronto Area where a softer condominium market began emerging in the second half of 2020. Within the region, modest price gains for larger units outside of the city centre is expected to continue to offset softer demand in the downtown core. With the return of international university student rental demand and newly arrived immigrants in the second half of 2021, demand for centrally located units should increase.
Greater Toronto Area Market Summary
In the Greater Toronto Area, the aggregate price of a home in 2021 is forecast to increase 5.75 per cent year-over-year to $990,300. During the same period, the median price of a standard two-storey home is expected to rise 7.5 per cent to $1,185,800, while the median price of a condominium is forecast to increase 0.5 per cent to $600,800. The relatively flat median price projection for the condominium segment reflects a modest increase in median price for condominiums in the 905 area, offsetting a slight dip in median price for the City of Toronto.
"Single family homes remain in high demand. We expect lighter activity as we near the winter holidays but if inventory does not improve in early 2021, we could have another year of strong price appreciation," said Debra Harris, vice president, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. "Low inventory is expected to put upward pressure on prices but we could see low unit sales if there isn't product to sell."
Performance within the condominium segment is expected to remain varied with higher demand for larger units in the 905 area. Harris added that while there has been a recent surge in condominium listings, the historically starved Toronto condo market can withstand an increase in condo supply without significantly impacting price in the short term. With the federal government's new and aggressive immigration targets as well as the expected return of rental demand from university students in the fall, resale demand for condominiums should be significantly higher in the second half of the year.
"Many young people returned home to save money during the pandemic and we expect them to want to get back into city life when the vaccine becomes available. The question is whether consumer confidence in the condo market will be healthy given the surge in listings. The reality is that current inventory is much healthier than where we were last year," said Harris. "For the many young professionals who were discouraged by strong competition in the condo market in previous years, this window may be their opportunity to find a home they can get excited about living in."
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